Cardinals 6, Reds 1

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CINCINNATI (AP)—Bronson Arroyo got braids in his hair, hoping to end a long slump and a big series in style.

The new hairdo didn’t do a thing.

Scott Spiezio hit the last of the Cardinals’ three homers off Arroyo on Thursday, and St. Louis gained a soothing series split with a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that left the NL Central rivals right where they started.

The Cardinals held their ground while in town, leaving 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place Cincinnati.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Arroyo said.

Rather, it was a snapshot of how things have gone for two teams that seem to be racing in reverse. Both have losing records over the last two weeks, unable to take advantage of the other’s struggles.

After blowing a ninth-inning lead on Wednesday night, the Cardinals were encourage to leave with a four-game split.

“To come back after we got beat like that last night, that was impressive,” manager Tony La Russa said.

Jim Edmonds and Chris Duncan also homered off Arroyo (9-8), so frustrated by a seven-week slump that he got his shoulder-length hair braided into cornrows two days earlier to try to change his luck.

Instead, the All-Star pitcher matched his career high for homers allowed and remained winless since June 19. He’s 0-5 in his last 10 starts with a 5.29 ERA, a stretch of futility that includes three blown saves by his bullpen.

So, do the cornrows go?

“I think I’ll keep them for a while,” Arroyo said. “I’m about at the end of my rope, superstition-wise. Maybe I’ll have to bring in a live chicken or something.”

Duncan added another solo homer in the ninth off Rheal Cormier, his first two-homer game of the season.

Rookie Anthony Reyes (4-5), who has helped the Cardinals’ rotation get through a series of injuries, struggled with his own medical problem—an upset stomach—through five shutout innings. He gave up a pair of hits, walked two and hit three batters.

Reyes has made 11 starts this season, filling in for injured Chris Carpenter, Sidney Ponson and Mark Mulder at various times. Most of his starts have been brief—only three have lasted six innings.

There was a reason for this one.

“The last couple of innings, I started getting nauseated,” Reyes said.

A day after closer Jason Isringhausen gave up a game-ending, two-run homer to David Ross in the Reds’ 8-7 comeback win, the bullpen held on. Adam Wainwright allowed Javier Valentin’s pinch-hit solo homer in the seventh, but that was it.

“They switched the momentum on us last night, but it’s our job to keep our composure and do what we’re capable of doing,” Spiezio said.

The Reds did all they could to promote the mid-August showdown, giving away Davey Concepcion bobbleheads for one game and offering half-price tickets and $1 hot dogs for the other three. They sold more than 130,000 hot dogs and packed their ballpark for the last three games.

Neither team has won very often lately, keeping the NL Central tight. The Cardinals have lost 10 of their last 14 games while holding onto first place. The Reds have lost 8 of 12, but no ground in the standings over that span.

The main difference is that the Reds have won their head-to-head games, going 8-4 against the Cardinals overall to stay in the race. They finish the series with three games next week in St. Louis.

“When you’re playing the division leader, you’d love to have gotten three out of four, but we’ll take it and move on,” manager Jerry Narron said. “I think it will go down to the end of the year, and it should.”

Edmonds, Duncan and Spiezio played big roles in the series split. Edmonds hit a grand slam in Wednesday night’s loss, and had a solo homer and an RBI single off Arroyo as part of a three-hit day.

Duncan led off the fifth with a homer—he was 7-for-14 with three homers in the series. And Spiezio, filling in at third base for the injured Scott Rolen, put the Cardinals up 5-0 with his two-run shot later in the fifth. Spiezio has hit safely in his last six games, going 7-for-18 with three homers.


Edmonds’ homer was his 228th in seven seasons with the Cardinals, tying Ray Lankford for fourth on the club’s list. Edmonds hit 121 with the Angels. … Rolen left Wednesday night’s game with back spasms. He’s day to day. … RF So Taguchi lost track of the number of outs in the fourth inning, starting for the dugout after catching Juan Castro’s fly ball for only the second out. … The Reds optioned OF Chris Denorfia to Triple-A Louisville to open a roster spot for OF Todd Hollandsworth, acquired from Cleveland a day earlier. … Valentin has three of the Reds’ eight pinch-hit homers.

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